Could you talk a little about having a team start late and having the driver the caliber of Paul available for you to build your team around?
"Sure. I think first of all, they have not only done the open tests, but they have had two races under their belt. I think that's one of the reasons we thought this was a great place to start with Paul. It's a place he's clearly had a ton of success in the past. He's one of the most tenacious guys and who can get the most out of every car he drives.
"We have reasonable expectations here. This is a place we want to build from. We have four other races that we are confirmed for this year – three others on road courses, street courses. So I think this is the beginning of Dragon Racing and we have great expectations for the future."
Paul, for this year, IndyCar has implemented the double‑file restarts and the new way to start the races bunched a lot more together. Are you concerned at all that going into Long Beach, especially with that first turn so close there, that will add a dimension you are not used to?
PAUL TRACY: "Obviously, it's created quite a bit of buzz, the double‑file restart. I don't really know what they are going to do this weekend. There was some talk of maybe they were not going to do it. Maybe they are going to do it. Maybe they are going to change it up a little bit. But it's really [competition director] Brian Barnhart's and Randy's [Bernard, CEO] decision what they want to do, and I will abide by whatever they want to do.
"It's definitely caused some carnage on the restarts, and you know, it's put some guys in quite a bad position in the championship. Guys like Ryan Briscoe and Justin Wilson have effectively been knocked out of two races on these restarts. You've really got to be careful who you're around at the time and really have your wits about you, because you've got to not only be looking forward but also looking in your rear‑view mirror at the same time and that just makes it difficult."
Jay, if you could talk about what your Indy 500 plans are, because I know Paul already has a deal committed for that race?
JAY PENSKE: "I think we are still aggressively looking to put someone in the seat for the 500. We have got the cars available. We have got some sponsorship lined up I think at this point it's just trying to find the best person to take us 500 miles come May 29. We are in discussions but nothing has been finalized yet. We are hoping to do that probably right after Long Beach."
And for Paul, the last couple of years you've run Indy with one team and run other races with others, how difficult is that to, once you kind of get to know one group of guys then you have to pack up and go to another team?
PAUL TRACY: "It's not optimal by any means. Jay and I were working really, really hard on a full program and we were really, really close to having a sponsorship fall into place. It's gone on a bit of a hold. It's not completely out of the frame yet. But we just couldn't put it all together in the time frame that we needed to.
"And frankly, the deal with Dennis [Reinbold] just kind of came along and fell right in my lap, just overnight. He says, 'Hey, here is a deal for you; if you want to do it, let's do it. And if not, I'm going to sign somebody else.' So I didn't have anything concrete. I was hopeful that we could put together a full‑season program, but it was moving along a little bit slower than Jay and I wanted it to. We are not really in a position to force the sponsor's hand.
"So I really had to take that opportunity and just regroup and figure out what direction we were going to go for the rest of the season with Jay. Now we have these five races on the board. And we kind of closed out all of the bigger-market races that we wanted to hit and the sponsors wanted to be at, and then now we try to focus in on all of the other races."
With your experience at Long Beach, how do you think that really helps for a proven veteran like yourself to be able to jump in a car and do something, even though you haven't been able to do any testing this year?
"Well, I think it's going to be a help. Obviously I've had great success at Long Beach, and I've had a lot of success at the track since they changed the configuration about 10 years ago. From that standpoint, like I said, I've worked with the crew before. I've worked with the engineer before. I know what to expect coming in, and really, it's just getting out there and getting familiar with the car again.
Anybody who follows your Twitter feed knows that you seem to be taking delight in needling the guys at KB Racing. When you put the helmet on and you get behind the wheel, does that stuff go away, or are you looking forward to maybe making life difficult for some guys in Long Beach?
"We are definitely going there to try to get the best result we can for all of our sponsors that are going to be involved. This is a comeback race, really, for everybody; with myself coming back to Long Beach after a hiatus and Ralphs, they were involved in IndyCar almost 10 years ago with Richie Hearn. And the sponsors we have on board with Motegi, one of their head offices is in California. Really, this is a coming-back-to-the-beach kind of a weekend for us. Definitely thinking about obviously not getting in any trouble in the race and these double‑file restarts has caught a lot of guys out. So hopefully we are not going to be near [EJ] Viso on some of those restarts."
Your record at Long Beach, do you feel any realistic goals or expectations when you come in or do you look at trying to get a top‑10 or top‑5 your first time back?
"Honestly, I'm looking at, you know, just the best result that we can possibly get, and I always go into any race with the expectation of, 'I'm going to do everything I can possibly do to try to win.' Is that realistic? Sometimes, no. But I think in any sport, if you're going out there giving everything you have, it's time to get off the field or get out of the game. So from my standpoint, I'm going to go out there and from the time that the green flag drops till the checkered comes out, I'm going to give everything I have to try to get the best result. If that's a top three or a top five or a top‑10, we give 100 percent all the time and we'll focus on the next race as we go along."
To carry on the theme of needling other drivers, you have to be looking forward to getting out there and facing your old nemesis in Sebastien Bourdais, and of the antics between you two, the "Captain Canada" episode in Montréal, etc. Talk about getting back there and facing off again.
"It's great – obviously he's back to the series and it's always great when I come back to these races and run to get out there and compete with the top guys. And you know, I've had some dices in the last couple of years with the top dogs, in Toronto with Dario [Franchitti] and Helio [Castroneves] and [Ryan] Briscoe.
"I'm anticipating having a lot of fun when I get in the car. I still love driving the car as much as I did the first day I ever got into a car. So I'm just excited to have the opportunity to really have a quality team and a quality group of guys – it's not just a bunch of guys we have hired in to come and do the race weekend and throw the car together. We have got top‑shelf guys who have got a lot of experience. I think Jay can hit on this a little, but I think he feels this is the best car that Dragon Racing has ever prepared in their three years, talking to his crew, and they said this car is just – you know, it's ready to go.
"So I'm excited that we have got the best possible equipment that I have had in the last three years to get on track."